A Plant-Based Diet and the Role of Cashews

Plant-based diets have been on the rise for a number of years and they look like they are here to stay. Especially after the recent events, people are more concerned about living a healthy lifestyle. But, not only this there is also an increased awareness about the environmental impact of what we eat especially among the younger generation. As scientists have observed, a plant-based diet is healthy for both people and the planet, here we will run through the basics of a plant-based diet and the health benefits that cashews bring.

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet is basically a diet consisting of mainly eating foods derived from plants such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, seeds, whole grains and of course, nuts and dried fruits, including cashews, and eating fewer (or no, if this is your choice) foods that derive from animal products or foods that contain sugars, salt and saturated fats.

The Mediterranean Diet, for example, could be considered as a plant-based diet, as within it, foods deriving from plants are more predominant than sugars, salt and saturated fats, which are all reduced.

Why are cashews important?

Cashews are energy-dense foods and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals therefore, adding them to your meals or eating them as a snack will give you the nutritional boost you need. Cashews are high in iron which contributes to the normal function of the immune system (3). Your immune system defends your body against infectious organisms and other invaders such as viruses and bacteria which can damage your health. In addition, their high vitamin K content may also contribute to normal blood clotting and healthy bones (1,2,3).

Not only that but cashews are also high in minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and copper. Also, they are a source of fiber, thiamin, pantothenic acid and minerals like potassium and selenium (1,2).

Simple tips for going plant-based

Going plant-based doesn’t have to be vegetarian or vegan. Each person is different but, here a few things to get started.

1)            If you don’t want to go vegetarian or vegan why not try cooking one meat free meal per week to start off with.

2)            Choose good fats as part of your diet such as those found in cashews, remember the 30g per day makes up a healthy handful.

3)            Make sure your daily snacks are plant-based like these vegan cashew balls.

5 FEBRUARY, 2020

Global Cashew Council Funded Research Helps Cashew-Based Bar Brand Claim Lower Calories

5TH FEBRUARY 2020

Global Cashew Council Funded Research Helps Cashew-Based Bar Brand Claim Lower Calories

The study, published in the journal Nutrients1, found that cashews have 16% fewer calories than previously thought because of lower digestible energy in cashews. Based on this finding, a leading US snack-bar which uses cashews has been able to update its nutrition labels.

This research project was funded by Global Cashew Council and led by Dr. David Baer from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center.

For the cashew industry, increasing ingredient use to create additional demand for pieces is one of the most important challenges now. Lower calories is one of the main objectives for the snacks’ industry now.

 

About the Cashew Study

Eighteen healthy volunteers were recruited to participate in this 9-week study. Participants consumed a controlled base diet supplemented with cashew nuts (42 g/day) during one treatment period of 4 weeks, or a controlled base diet with no-cashew supplementation during another treatment period of 4 weeks. Diet samples from the study, as well as feces and urine from eighteen volunteers, were collected during the final week of each intervention phase and analyzed for protein, fat and energy content. From these, researchers were able to determine the actual digestible energy content of cashews.

Study results showed that the available energy (calorie) content of cashews is 16% lower than that which is typically stated on current food labels and databases in the United States, including the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. These must be corrected in order to provide consumers with accurate energy values. Whereas the current reported energy value is 163 kcal/serving, USDA researchers found that the metabolizable energy content of a 28 g (1 oz) serving of cashews is 137 kcal.

1 Baer, D., & Novotny, J. (2019). Metabolizable Energy from Cashew Nuts is Less than that Predicted by Atwater Factors. Nutrients, 11(1), 33.

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